A tale of two cities



2016 – New York
The day was done. The class was over. It was a day like any other. Life of a substitute dance instructor was fun. It helped her keep her interests alive. She was a regular in this studio. She’d usually be the preferred choice to cover for unexpected leave of absence from other instructors. She had been offered a permanent position quite a few times but her heart had never sought such career comforts. She was a free bird. Like a gentle breeze, she found herself heading where her heart desired.
The halls were near empty. The students had left for the day. A little girl of thirteen still sat silently by a corner. Her fingers were furiously typing away on her iPhone.

She had time to kill. Her ride wouldn’t arrive for another thirty minutes. She decided to break ice and chat with the little girl.
“You aren’t from here are you?”, she asked. “I’ve never seen you here before”, she said and smiled. It was a warm smile. A smile that stood to represent no harm. Her smile accentuated her soft voice.

The little girl paused her engagement with her phone. She enthusiastically looked away from the screen and acknowledged the lady. Now it was her time to reciprocate a welcoming smile.

“I’m new here”, she replied. “Landed her last week. I’m from India”.

“Oh, India. Lovely. I was in India once. But that was a long time ago. Where in India are you from sweetheart”, the lady posed a question.

“Chennai” the little girl replied.

The words had a strange mesmerizing effect on her. Chennai. It was a city whose name she had not remembered in a long time.
The lady seemed to be lost in a world of her own.

********************************************

1983 – Chennai

“Sisters for life”, Radha declared as she hugged her friend tight. The two were inseparable. It was fate that brought the two young children together. Radha was an orphan. She was picked from the street in a malnourished state and it was a kindness of a random heart that helped her get checked into the orphanage.

As a girl of ten, it was a cruel time in her life. She was cognizant of her plight. Her parents had taken her to the city and had abandoned her there. She was left to fend for her own in the big city. Evil lurked in the dark corners of the city. It was fate that kept her from harm’s way. To a child of ten, it was a very scary place to be in all by herself. Where there is evil, there is also good. One such agent of the good had helped her to the safety of the walls of the orphanage.

The other children remained indifferent to Radha. They didn’t accept her as one of their own. Irony was at its finest. All the kids there were void of acceptance from the world and yet they could not carry acceptance in their tiny hearts for others.
The first few weeks were hard. One day, everything changed for Radha. She met her. Her friend who shared a similar fate that Radha had endured. It would be a few months later when Radha would come to realize that not everybody lives to a fairy tale unscathed by the piercing talons of filth and darkness that resides in the hearts of a few.

The two formed a bond. They would look out for each other. From the moment they met, they knew that they were to be inseparable. They were two hearts beating as one.

********************************************

New york

“Chennai. Lovely”, the lady said. She was reminded of the years she had spent there. It was a harrowing experience. An experience that had hardened her soul. An experience that taught her the lesson of resolute. It had bred strength into her veins. A strength that gave her courage to brave her odds and find a way to chase her dreams.

Hers was a story that lacked the blessing of a silver spoon that most who were in possession of one usually chose to ignore. Her journey in life had been hard and at times ugly. She always had managed to find a way out of her travails. Her reminisce was a little too much for her to bear. She found the name of the city to be all too sudden and all too overwhelming. It was a dream that she had chosen to forget. The little girl had brought it all back.

“Are you here by yourself? Who is coming to pick you up?” the lady asked the child.

“Mom should be here in a while. We are staying by our aunt’s place. Aunt is nice, but mom says she brags a lot all the time!!!” she replied.

The two ladies smiled.

********************************************

Chennai



“I heard someone is coming today to adopt”, Radha said enthusiastically. She had a rather trivial understanding of how adoption worked. Parents who did not have children of their own would usually pick children from the orphanage. They would then provide for the child and treat it nice and give it a life that it should have always deserved. Radha’s views remained simple and pure as white. She was yet to know anything of the nature of the world that she shared.

Her friend was not all too excited about the whole proposition for she had survived the ugliness of the world. She smiled and held on to Radha’s hands to assure her that their lives would soon coast away from their current hardship. Secretly within her heart, she prayed that no further harm knocking into their distraught lives.

The eventful day came and fate intervened. Radha was the eye-candy of the lot. The wannabe foster couple did look rather dubious to her. She whisked away her friend and felt compelled to tell her the dangers of what waited beyond the walls of the orphanage. Radha could not fully fathom the graveness of what she had just heard. She was overcome with grief of another kind.

On one hand, a life full of promises awaited and on the other, she could no longer be with her friend. Radha had begged the couple to adopt her friend as well. Her tears went unnoticed. The adults assured themselves that this was only a phase and that Radha would return to normalcy in a few days. Radha’s desire for a normal life and the pain of separating from her only true friend in the world, tore her apart from within.

How much could a little heart bear?

“Sisters for life”, Radha declared as she hugged her friend tight. Tears paved the roads that separated them. Life had been wonderful for Radha from then on. The creepy couple turned out to be alright. They educated her. They were a wonderful set of parents. Words live love and care made it into Radha’s life once again. Through her smiles, through her changed fortunes, Radha still yearned for her friend. She tried reaching out to her friend a few times initially. Her guilt tore her apart. While she enjoyed a nice and a decent life, her friend was left on her own in the orphanage.

Radha felt guilty about picking a normal life rather than staying with her friend.
The struggle inside her ensued and when she finally mustered the courage to face her friend, it had already been too late. Her friend had run away from the orphanage.

********************************************

New York

The phone buzzed and interrupted the two’s conversation. The little girl excused herself to attend the call. It was her mom and that she was on her way. Her mom wouldn’t take long now. The two sat beside each other. They spoke enthusiastically about their mutual love for dancing. The lady felt like this little girl was very much like a daughter to her.

If only… her thoughts strayed once again.

Krishna…. A voice announced.

The two ladies turned around to see who had called out their names.

“Mommy”, the little girl replied back. The two waved each other a hi and the mother walked towards the seated girl.

“This is my instructor for the day mom. Mr Murray couldn’t make it today. You know what, she was in Chennai too”.

The little girl turned towards her instructor.

“I’m sorry I didn’t get to introduce myself before. I’m Krishna. I know, it’s like a boy’s name, but mom tells me that it’s the only

name she’s ever loved deeply before. That’s my mom Radha”, she said pointing towards her mother.

“Hi , I’m Radha”, the mother introduced herself.

********************************************

It took a few more weeks for Radha and Krishna to finally unite. And once again, they remained inseparable. Two souls meant to be one. It took a while, but they eventually got there. This time, the pact was there to stay. It aint a fairy tale unless there is a happily ever after. 🙂

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